College MeasuresTM is a partnership between the American
Institutes for Research and Optimity Advisors, focused on using data to drive
improvement in higher education outcomes in the United States. We have created this partnership because we
are deeply concerned about improving higher education in the United States, and we believe that important
underlying data is underexposed and underutilized by students, parents,
policymakers, and even by institutions themselves.
Far too many students enroll in college but never complete
their education. On average, less than 60% of students seeking four-year
bachelor degrees graduate within six years. Graduation rates for black and
Hispanic students are far lower. Among students seeking associate degrees at
community colleges, less than one-fourth earn these degrees within three years
– with only about 14% of black students and 18% of Hispanic students doing so.
The human side of this failure is significant. The student
who drops out after a year or two of college will benefit only slightly – at
least economically – from having attended college but not having earned a
degree. They will earn, on average, only 5% to 10% more than peers who never
attended college. Many of these students will take on
thousands of dollars of student loan debt which will be a significant financial
burden for years to come. In addition to these personal costs, taxpayers spend
billions of dollars each year subsidizing the education of students who fail to
graduate and who, too often, don’t even make it through their first year of
Measurement and Management
Stakeholders in the US higher education system – from
students to administrators to legislators to employers - need to be able to accurately
measure performance, understand what that performance means to them, and act
upon the information presented. However, measuring and managing performance for
colleges is not straight-forward. Important questions have to be addressed.
What are the appropriate measures of performance? What data exist to support
those measures? For any particular college, what are appropriate performance
targets? Who should be held accountable for achieving those targets, by whom,
Our goal is to provide stakeholders with tools they can use
to analyze the performance of their college or system, and serve as the basis
for productive discussions about outcomes relative to the dollars being spent
to achieve those outcomes.
Out of the Warehouse,
into the Storefront
of millions of dollars have been spent creating data warehouses that contain
the information needed to assess the performance of our higher education system. These warehouses exist at the school, state
and national levels, and hold a powerful amount of information that needs to be
presented in ways that are compelling to users.
Our goal is to move the information out of these data warehouses
and into "data storefronts" in which performance metrics will be
placed into the public square, allowing students, their families, and policy
makers to get much better measures of the rate of return on their investment in
higher education programs and institutions.
Mark Schneider, President
Mark is president of College MeasuresTM, as well as a vice president at American Institutes for Research,
a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Distinguished
Professor (emeritus) from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He
served as the U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics (National Center for
Education Statistics) from 2005–08.